[AltWire Interview] K Enagonio
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Freelancer K Enagonio recently talked with AltWire Contributor Samantha Warren about life as a YouTuber, photographer and more...
[Samantha Warren/AltWire]: I first wanted to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me today. I know you’ve been busy between covering Warped Tour for Alternative Press, as well as recently covering the APMA’s. For our readers who may not know of you yet, can you tell them your name and a little bit about you and what you do?
[K Enagonio]: Thank you for having me be a part of this! I always get excited when someone asks me for an interview. I love sharing my stories and knowledge of not only the creative side, but also the business side of the photo, film, and the music industry. So hello! My name is K Enagonio, yes, just the letter k (my YouTube channel is justtheletterk), and I am a professional freelance photographer, filmmaker, documentarian, and correspondent.
So now to my job, which is why we are here, right? Sorry, did I mention that I like telling stories? I work as a contract hire for Alternative Press Magazine, which means I get to work on specific projects with them, and I’m not locked in as an employee. I host videos as a correspondent for AP, which is essentially a news journalist on video. Not only do I host each video, but I also come up with a creative concept for each video that I’ll work on, film and photograph what happens behind the scenes of events, band’s live shows, and, my favorite, capturing behind the scenes footage for the Alternative Press magazine cover shoots.
You see, I’ve never been a big fan of desks, except the one in my home office, of course, so it’s nice to be a part of AP, because the company lives in that grey area, where it’s a “real job” and a freelance job at the same time. I wouldn’t change anything, except maybe the want for more assignments!
[AW]: Let’s talk about Warped Tour. How did you get involved with Alternative Press, and end up on the tour? What advice would you give to someone who’s looking for touring opportunities and to get involved in the music industry?
[KE]: Ahhh Warped Tour, how I miss thee. Alright, so I started shooting shows back in 2013, in Perth, WA, and was instantaneously hooked. ! lived there with my father, who travels abroad for business, and began to photograph a lot more. I filmed my own band’s music video, for goodness sake! I was simultaneously studying film production at SAE Institute – Perth. I fell head over heals with live music photography and videography. I love how the photos all show the movement and power of the music. Music is one of the, if not THE, most important aspect of human life. We need it.
In 2014 I graduated with my BA in Film Production, from SAE Institute – Perth. I moved to California, and four days after moving in, I flew to Ohio for my first tour. It was a nightmare of a tour and the band didn’t survive it. They broke up shortly after, so the photos and videos serve a reminder of the lessons we learned on that tour. From there I got a tour in late 2015 with Diamante, who was supporting Flyleaf. Growing up, as a metal screamer, I looked up to Lacey Sturm. Oh! Yeah, I do music as well. However, Lacey had left the band years before this tour, so I had the pleasure of getting to know their new singer, Kristen May and the band I had grown up adoring.
In January 2016 I got a text message from Sammeer, one of Flyleaf’s amazing guitarists, and now keyboardist for P.O.D, asking if I wanted to shoot Lacey Sturm’s album release show. This would be the first album that Lacey did independently from a label, and knowing her talent, I knew I had to go shoot the show! I went, captured hundreds of photos, met her team, and they loved the photos.
In March 2016, I hopped on tour with New Years Day, who was supporting Escape the Fate at the time. I was hired as a merchandise manager, photographer, and videographer. My daily tasks were to capture the touring lifestyle, sell merchandise during the shows, shoot the band’s live show, and edit everything right after the set, while still selling merch. Oh, and I was also filming and editing a daily vlog every day for my YouTube Channel.
Come April, NYD and Escape the Fate headed back out on tour with Hellyeah! and this time, I was out for Escape the Fate, because on the previous tour I shot maybe four of their shows, just to test the waters. We toured until June 5th, but one week before the tour ended I got a phone call from Lacey Sturm’s manager, Dubbs. I was at dinner with Escape the Fate and when his name popped up on my phone, I confusingly excused myself to take the call. He asked me if Lacey could hire me to FILM A MUSIC VIDEO FOR HER SINGLE, ROT!!! You see, that summer tour with Escape the Fate brought us to a lot of the summer music festivals! Fortunately for me, Lacey played a lot of those festivals as well, which meant that I got to continue photographing her. I think I shot her show five or six times throughout the summer, so her team got to know my style and saw something in me that they could trust with this task.
Now to Alt Press! In October 2016 I got a message from my baby boy, Bryce Hall, telling me that my recent uploads to YouTube had been extra fantastic. It meant the world coming from him, because he’s so damn talented. I later got another call asking if AP could hire me as a correspondent, starting immediately. I laughed over the phone because I was so taken aback by the offer, and once I caught my breath and squealed while jumping up and down, I said “yes!”
Since October, I’ve filmed dozens of videos for AP, including all of the APMA promotional videos, behind the scenes shoots for Machine Gun Kelly, Black Veil Brides, Neck Deep, and Ash Costello, for their AP Covers, as well as many events and shows. My first assignment was to film the two year anniversary of the Emo Nite club, in Los Angeles. Emo Nite is an event that brings us “outcasts” together to jam to some of our favorite tunes and have guest DJ’s from bands like New Found Glory, Underoath, All Time Low, and more! From the moment I got approval on that first video, I strove to be the best creator I could be.
I got the offer to go on Warped Tour as AP’s correspondent in January 2017 and choked when I heard the, “so, what are you doing this summer?”. I knew that Warped would be a hard tour, but I had to do it, to prove to myself that I could conquer it.
[AW]: What was your favorite part about the tour? Who were your favorite artists you got to see this summer? What’s the experience like being able to interview and hang out with some well-known artists and some that are probably your favorite bands?
[KE]: My favorite part of the tour was getting to travel around the country and meet the faces that match the usernames that frequent my social media. To have a face to talk to and have an interaction with, even if it’s for the five seconds it takes to open your camera app on your phones, it means a lot to me.
My favorite artists were my friends. I feel bad from some of the bands that I maybe didn’t get a chance to cover, but I loved getting to shoot my friends frequently, see band’s that I was inspired by as a teen, including Anti-Flag, Hatebreed, Bowling For Soup, Silverstein, Hawthorne Heights, and so on. Getting to know the band members and crew of Warped Tour was absolutely enlightening for me. Getting to do things outside of shows with some of the bands made me appreciate how down to earth most of the artists are. I mean, how often do you get to shoot ghosts with Sam Penner, from Memphis May Fire, at Dave and Busters, in the middle of nowhere, or kick it with Watsky for Game of Thrones night, secret jam sessions with the band members, and post-show basketball games with Beau Bokan, from Blessthefall.
[AW]: You also got the chance to cover the Alternative Press Music Awards and got a chance to go to the XGames. Can you tell us anything about both of those events? What was your favorite part about those experiences?
[KE]: My goodness! The APMA show was so fast paced that I don’t even know who won what award or what songs the bands played, other than what I had heard during rehearsals. It was insane getting to meet more of my heroes on the red carpet, including Benji from Good Charlotte, Laura-Jane Grace, from Against Me!, Korn, Pierce the Veil, and Josh from Twenty One Pilots.
Not only did I get to capture the event, but I also got to spend more time getting to know and work with Andy Biersack, the host of the APMA show, a talk show called the Andy Show, singer for Black Veil Brides, and his solo project, Andy Black.
To be completely honest with you, I wasn’t a fan of BVB or Andy’s music, which I didn’t even know about, until AP sent me to film a video for one of his shows. When I first met him I noticed how playful he is in nature, like a young teenager. I have had the pleasure of working with Andy, his team, and his lovely wife, Juliet, on many projects. Fingers crossed that more opportunities come from that. Oh, I also filmed a documentary about Andy’s Bodyguard, Yanni.
Three days prior to the APMAs, I was flown out from Warped Tour to Minneapolis for the 2017 Summer XGames. This was the most surreal experience I’ve had in my life. I was there for the two practice days before the event, so I got to see what the Vikings stadium really looked like. I love when I have time, before I start shooting at a new place, to walk around and find the best spots to shoot from, get familiar with the lighting, any obstacles that could block my view, like some of the park ramps, poles, fences, dirt mounds, people, etc. The first night I was there, I stayed until they basically kicked us out. I went to the lobby of the stadium and skateboarded around the entire circumference of the stadium. I felt the cool air on my face and arms as I coasted past the deserted hot dog stands, the lingering smell of popcorn, and the dirt on the stadium floor. I began to cry as I realized what my hard work and persistence have allowed me to do.
[AW]: You’re big on your social media accounts. How do you grow your numbers and how do you decide which content to put up? If you could give any advice to our readers who might be trying to grow their social media, what advice would you give them?
[KE]: Ah, social media is a touchy subject for me, as of late. I love that I have a place to showcase my work, have people see it, get new clients from it, etc., BUT it’s also so sad to see how detached from reality it has made us. We are so desensitized that our movies look more realistic than ever. When someone gets decapitated in a comedy movie, you know this world is crazy. Not only that, but we are fed so much BS by our government that we fearfully fall in line, fear for our lives on a daily basis, because all they talk about on the news is the horrible things happening and how they could happen in your town, office, or maybe your home next. Sorry, went off on a tangent.
I grew my numbers like I grew my business, one day at a time, hard work, consistency, and kindness. I put up whatever I want to put up, but most of the time I edit an entire photo set, send five or six photos to my phone, and then decide which one to post, and when. For readers trying to grow their social media, there are many resources online to help you navigate the social media waters. I also listen to a great podcast called Social Media Marketing, which has taught me a lot, along with the other freelancing podcasts I listen to, like Freelance to Founder, Millennial Money, The Smarter Freelancing podcast, and soon I will be able to add my own podcast to that list! So, for you newcomers to social media, remember that numbers won’t make you famous or popular. Your work, character, and passion for what you love will make you famous, but remember, fame comes with a price. Also, this all depends on your definition of “famous.”
[AW]: Being on tour can be a rough lifestyle. Can you tell us what a typical day for you was like while on Warped Tour? If you had any off days, what were your favorite things to do? Did you like to shoot on your off days since you‘re a photographer, too?
[KE]: Being on tour isn’t so much a “rough” lifestyle, but rather, a non-stop rollercoaster filled with music, friends, laughter, homesickness, hunger, low bank accounts, unless you learn how to save money properly, shitty gas station hotdogs, an extremely unhealthy amount of caffeinated drinks to stay awake on long drives, so you don’t fall asleep, sitting up, editing a video, random groupies trying to constantly pick you up so they can meet the band, friends from high school that used to pick on you asking for tickets to a show, tour drama, the occasional puppy, and the experience of a lifetime. There’s nothing quite like traveling around the world with your family. We spend more time gone than we do at home, which is the hardest part for road dogs. We miss holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, births, funerals, and everything in between, but we keep doing it, because without this music, we would probably die from lack of passion.
My typical day on Warped Tour went a little something like this. I’d wake up at 7:15, or 7:45, depending on my work load, edit until about 8, go get some breakfast, and be out on the festival grounds by 8:15. I film a bit of the set up, the line of kids that have been waiting since the previous night, the AP tent, the giant inflatable, and some “good morning guys” shots.
If the venue isn’t seven billion square miles I’ll get back to the bus at about 9:30, drink a ton of water, edit until 10:30 and be out at the gates for doors at 11. I also try to skate at every venue, to start my morning out with a bit of cardio.
Then my day at Warped Tour starts! We don’t get the show schedule until about an hour before doors, and sometimes it will change five minutes before doors, so I have literally run to get the set times, signing times, and merchandise we have for sale posted on our socials.
Throughout the day I post social media story content, photos and videos from the tour, take more photos, film content for our weekly recap videos, which PRS guitars sponsored, take promo photos for PRS guitars, and film ten documentaries over the summer, about some people on the tour. I can’t wait for those to be released! I go to every signing we have, teach a TEI class every day, network my ass off in between band sets, and create relationships with the crew and artists of Warped Tour. Relationships in this industry are EVERYTHING! So don’t be a dick!
I also loved getting to find some abandoned places to explore when we had days off. I hit up a spot in Brunswick, GA and an abandoned boys prison in North Carolina. Those two places were within a 30 minute drive from where our bus was parked, so I couldn’t resist! I go into an abandoned structure and capture what it’s become. Something about desolation intrigues me. Why did you abandoned a church, school, hospital? I love the art that taggers put up, and I appreciate the bandos that have been left untouched by paint, because they’re more like a museum than an art gallery. I love that there are different types of art in this underground photo scene. I film a short film every time I go into a building and post them up on my YouTube Channel. I actually just posted a video from the abandoned factory in Georgia!
[AW]: While on Warped you’ve seen a bunch of different artists as well as some up and coming artists. What made a performance stand out to you the most if you checked out any bands that were still getting their name out there? How did they draw you in to check out a set?
[KE]: A lot of the upcoming bands and local bands that won the Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands contests were absolutely phenomenal to watch! The White Noise plays with such intensity, Bad Seed Rising are powerful as all hell on stage, and they’re some of my touring friends, Fire From The Gods, who have been growing exponentially in the last year, Poeta who jumped on the tour for the last leg of it, Sonic Boom Six, Bad Cop Bad Cop, and so on! There were so many up and comers this year and it makes me excited to see the line up next year!
[AW]: What are your future plans now that Warped Tour is finished? Do you have side projects going on or other tours?
[KE]: So I don’t tour as much as a lot of people I know. I am a freelancer so I take jobs wherever they are and whenever they are. I love that my job allows me to travel so much! Plans for the rest of this year…hmm well it’s the last quarter of the year right now, so some projects are wrapping up and some new ones are popping up. I have a music video shoot locked in for September, some photoshoots this month, a ton of editing gigs, some acting, hopefully a slew of AP work, a few shows that are rolling through LA, including Self Help Fest, Paramore, One OK Rock, 30 Seconds To Mars, etc. My life is different every day, which is one of the perks and challenges of my job. BUT I LOVE IT!
[AW]: Do you have any last words?
[KE]: Pizza is the key to life, cats are aliens, Elon Musk is my hero and I must work for him before I turn 27 (I’m 24, but I have goals), and babies also look like aliens. WHAT IF CATS ARE BABIES!?
Okay, but for real, thank you for having me be a part of this interview! It means the absolute world to me that someone is interested in what I do enough to ask me questions! For those that read this, I hope you feel inspired to go out and follow your passions. I was ragged on when I began to photograph live music and now I work for one of the top music magazines, that is on a small list of magazines that still print, have worked the XGAMES, and I can not wait to see what happens. Work hard and when you think you’ve worked hard enough, work more and work harder. Time and consistency lead to success. I work about eighty hours a week, so yeah, it’s going to consume your life, but dammit, I wouldn’t change it for anything. I tell every girl I am with that no matter how much I love them and want to have them be a part of my life, my passion for what I do will always come first, because music saves my life every single day. Follow your dreams and capture every moment.